Android at Google I/O 2012
I’ve been dreaming about attending Google I/O live in San Francisco for years but it never seemed to be the right moment (time, money etc.) But this year I was lucky enough to get a free ticket It was well worth it! Below are my impressions of the event.
The keynotes in day 1 and 2 were really awesome, they showcased the newest features in Android JellyBeans, the new gadgets (Nexus 7, Nexus Q, Chromebox, Google Glasses are just few of them), there were some crazy stunts like a jumping from an airplane with Google Glasses on so everyone can see what was going on using Google+ Hangouts, biking acrobatics, climbing down Moscone center and so on.
I’ve attended almost every Android session (missed a couple because I was a couple of minutes late and the rooms were already full) and a few others on other topics. It was interesting to see that even though during the last day at Google I/O there were fewer people in Moscone West, they closed the third floor but the Android sessions were still overcrowded, people sitting on the floor or waiting outside in overflow queues to get in (done that too).
Code Labs and Office Hours
Code Labs and Android Office Hours were also quite interesting, I didn’t have the time to attend all of them but the ones I’ve been to gave me the chance to get my hands into some code (although most of the things I was already familiar with). I’ve also got answers to some of my questions about Android best practices.
Another good thing to do at a conference like this is networking. Talking to people, exchanging ideas, sharing tips – these are all good ways to make yourself noticed, although I definitely lack people skills (must improve).
I came back with a Nexus Galaxy with JB, a Nexus 7 tablet, a Nexus Q media streamer, a Chromebox and an ADK board. How awesome is that?!
New and newsworthy in Android JB
Very catchy name for something that’s meant to give Android better graphics rendering through vsync. Some of the features include:
– improved consistent frame rate across the entire framework (application rendering, touchscreen processing, screen composition and display refresh) ~ 60 fps
– triple buffering: GPU, CPU and display all run in parallel without waiting on each other offering a better refresh rate; the user interface, animations, scrolling feel smoother, faster, more fluid
– better touchscreen experience: before touch events were processed independently of the screen being updated but JB anticipates where your finger will be on the display when the screen is refreshed and draws the display in that position, so it feels more reactive
– touch input boost: as soon as you touch the screen the CPU runs full speed so it reduces previous delays when the device was exiting the idle mode
– better tools: Systrace collects data directly from the Linux kernel to produce an overall picture of what the system is doing; you can use that for app optimisations. ADT was upgraded to 20 and has a lot of nice new features, for e.g. when you create a new app you can choose to have tab navigation + swipe already implemented by just selecting some options. A must-try!
Notifications and Widgets: better, bigger notifications are now expandable, allow for more actions; widgets are not only resizable but when they’re placed on the home screen, the existing widgets will automatically move and be resized to make room.
Google Voice got a lot better, with support for offline.
Google Now it’s a really nifty app that uses search history, location history and calendar to figure out what information you might need and when.
For example when you’re commuting to work, based on your location it tells you when to leave home to catch the next bus, how long it takes to get there, how long it takes on the bus and also gives you options for a faster route. When you get to the bus station, it shows you when the next bus will arrive. Also, it shows you bars, restaurants as you walk down the street; inside a restaurant it provides suggestions about the most popular choices. It also offers currency conversions when you’re in another country, automatic translations etc. Quite very useful!
Google+ Events let’s you create beautiful event invites, share them with your friends and keep the party going with Party Mode (all pictures taken by attendees during an event are automatically uploaded on the event’s landing page like a streaming feed and can then seen as a slideshow).
There are many other things to tell about Google I/O, San Francisco (what a wonderful city!) and the entire trip to US but that would go beyond the scope of this post. I might write another one soon with tips and tricks I’ve learnt while I was there.
Conclusion: Google I/O it’s on of those types of events that any dev must attend at least once in a lifetime!